Indian children killed in school collapse

At least 17 children were killed when a school collapsed in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, following a heavy monsoon downpour, a disaster-relief official said.

“So far we have brought out the bodies of 17 children and a search is on for more, as there is speculation that there might have been more people, teachers and others in the school,” said Piyush Rautela, who heads Uttarakhand’s disaster management agency.

The single-storey building toppled after rains lashed Sumgarh town, one of several Indian civilian outposts near the Indian border with Tibet.

Local people at the site of the disaster reached by telephone from Dehradun said that at least 35 students and up to six teachers and staff were in the facility when it collapsed.

They put the toll at 18, but officials could not confirm the report.

“There has been separate incidents of house collapsing in Uttarkhand because of the heavy rains,” Mr Rautela added.

Troops have been rushed to Uttarakhand to help thousands of Hindus who were stranded near a pilgrimage site after torrential rains Sunday washed away a key bridge on a highway, Indo-Tibetan Border Police spokesman Deepak Pandey said.

A cloudburst 12 days ago in the northern region of Ladakh killed 189 people, with another 400 missing.

Six foreign trekkers were also killed in the popular tourist destination.